#153 Adventures in Cousinland: Webheads

153.1  Actually, I meant “webheads” as a play-on-words on “Webster” as a jbsurname…and when I went to school, a webhead was a Spiderman fan…now I guess it refers to a devotee of the internet. And yes, a webster is a weaver, not an arachnid…but moving right along…

153.2  Adventures in Cousinland examines some of the “coupled cousins” as they call them on Uncle Wiki’s list, here. Five of them were Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and one of those is from my old stamping grounds, Josiah Bartlett. His family emigrated from England and settled in Beverly, Massachusetts…next to the town I grew up in. He was born a bit north of there in Amesbury, both towns in Essex County…but he spent his adult life practicing medicine in New Hampshire, and represented that state at the First and Second Continental Congresses.

153.3  And yes indeed, Josiah Bartlett did marry his 1st cousin Mary Bartlett, daughter of his father’s brother. Such things were normal in those days…they were hardly scorned and shunned and pelted with stones. Genealogical sources today will call her Mary Bartlett (Bartlett), the second Bartlett being her maid name. So that one checks out, straightforward as can be….but still, there’s a wrinkle…

chart 528

153.4  …in some biographies, Josiah Bartlett’s mother Hannah Webster is said to be related to the eminent statesman Daniel Webster. Consider this excerpt from a website a whole lot fancier than this one…

dr d

153.5  Just goes to show you, “fancy” isn’t everything…they spell the town of Beverly wrong, with an “ey” at the end. What’s more, the “Dr. Webster” who taught Bartlett Greek and Latin can’t be Daniel…he was indeed an LL.D., Doctor of Laws…but he was born in 1782, 53 years after Bartlett. Another biography says “Dr. John Webster” was the teacher…Bartlett did have a grandfather, an uncle, and a 1st cousin 20 years his senior all named John Webster, but I can find none of them referred to as “Dr.”

153.6  At any rate, when it comes to purported relationships to famous people, especially those who share one’s surname, demand obviously exceeds supply, if you get my drift, and I think you do. And they don’t get much more famous than Daniel Webster. Among his many accomplishments was representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, and in 1957 a committee headed by then 38-year-old Sen. John F. Kennedy named Webster one of the top 5 Senators in history, along with Henry Clay (KY), John C. Calhoun (SC), Robert La Follette, Sr. (WI), and Robert Taft (OH). Interestingly, Kennedy had published “Profiles in Courage” the year before, profiling 8 Senators, of which only Webster and Taft were included. Not for nothing, it’s believed most if not all of that Pulitzer Prize-winning book was written by his speech-writer Theodore Sorensen.

153.7  But the question at hand is whether Bartlett and his mother were related (eventually) to Daniel Webster…and you might as well throw the father of the American dictionary Noah Webster into the mix…since it is not uncommon to see him confused with Daniel Webster. And it is now believed that these represent 3 distinct lines of Websters, originating in 3 different parts of England…

chart 529

153.8  … pink for Hannah, yellow for Daniel, green for Noah…and each family settled in a different colony…Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut respectively.

chart 530

153.9  The Josiah Bartlett/Daniel Webster connection consists of the suggestion that John Sr. in Chart 530 was the son of Thomas Sr. in Chart 531, making them 4th cousins…but this is generally discounted.

chart 531

True, the home towns in Chart 529 look like they’re relatively close together, but you must remember families in those days seldom strayed from their roots, for generations at a time. And finishing off with Noah Webster, I couldn’t resist including a 1st cousin marriage I noticed…I’m sure there were others in all 3 of these Webster lines.

chart 532

153.10  But even if you are one of those enlightened fortunates who knows that Daniel and Noah Webster were 2 different people, I’ll bet you still can’t help wondering if they were related. And there’s a curious thing, because you will find it said both that they were “cousins” and that they were “not related.” Can they be both? In a way, sure…because if they are very distant cousins, they are for all intents and purposes “not related.”

153.11  And it turns out that’s exactly the case here…their Webster lines have yet to be connected, but they are supposedly related none-the-less…as 10th cousins once removed…that is, Noah Webster Jr. was 10th cousin to Daniel’s father Capt. Ebenezer Webster thru the Gilbert family.

chartt geni

153.12  I found the above at Geni.com, and a grand bit of detective work, if true. I don’t like this sort of parent/child horizontal format…it could be called a “half-pedigree” since a full pedigree chart will show both everyone’s father and mother, leaving out siblings and other collaterals. This chart includes just one parent, the connecting one, which is fine for bare bones…but you’ll notice that sometimes a woman is identified by her maiden name, sometimes by her married name…and in  one instance, a family name is thereby lost…that of Marshfield, which I saw fit to re-insert.

153.13  So would you consider Daniel and Noah Webster “related”? Well, were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln related? Yes, 10th cousins. Were George Washington and Richard Nixon related? Yes, 10th cousins 3 times removed. See Related How Again? #34  for more along these lines…I report, you decide. More cousiny adventures next week… 

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Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

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